Massage questions…we all have them. I have compiled a list of these queiries and, in this post, offer some honest answers. Hope it helps!
What should I expect during my first massage therapy visit?
When you first come into the office, you will be asked to fill out a health history/intake form. Afterward, the therapist will ask general questions and assess your range of motion and pain levels. This is a good time to ask any questions that you may have, as well.
It is important to list all health concerns and medications so the therapist can adapt the session to your specific needs without doing any harm. It is also important to list any allergies so the therapist is aware if he/she needs to use a different oil or lotion during the session.
Do I have to be completely undressed?
No! You should undress to your level of comfort. For a full body massage, most get completely undressed, undies included. However, if you are more comfortable leaving your underwear on, that’s perfectly fine. The therapist will work around the clothes you left on as best as they can. For clinical or “spot” work, clothing is removed in that area or, if you are dressed in comfortable clothing, the work can be done with clothes on. If removing all your clothes makes you too nervous and unable to relax, then you are not getting the optimal benefit from the session. Your massage therapist will give you privacy to undress and get comfortable on the table.
Do I have to cover myself with a sheet or towel?
This is known as draping and California law requires it when you are undressed. Once you are on the table under the drape, the therapist will only uncover the part of your body being worked on.
The genitals (women and men) will not be uncovered at any point during the session. Breasts may be uncovered (with client consent) IF doing clinical work in that area.. If the therapist is going to work on a woman’s abdomen, a second towel or sheet will be used to cover the breasts so the main sheet or towel can be moved to expose the abdomen.
What do I do during a massage treatment?
Get yourself comfortable. If your therapist wants you to adjust your position, she/he will either move you or will ask you to move what is needed. Otherwise, change your position anytime to make yourself more comfortable.
Many people close their eyes and relax completely during a session; others prefer to talk. It’s up to you. It is your massage, and whatever feels natural to you is the best way to relax. Do not hesitate to ask questions at any time.
How long will a massage treatment last?
The average full-body massage session lasts about one hour. Many people prefer a 60 to 90-minute session for optimal relaxation. Should you want to address certain pain issues and get a full body massage, please consider a 90 minute or 2 hour session.
Will the massage hurt?
It shouldn’t. However, this depends on the type of massage and the depth of the strokes. A gentle relaxing massage that doesn’t dig deep into the muscles, shouldn’t hurt. With that being said, there is a ‘feels good’ hurt and an ‘ouch, stop it’ hurt. Trigger point massage and some clinical work MAY hurt for a few seconds at a time. A good massage, even a really deep tissue massage, should always stay in the ‘feels good’ hurt range.
Pain can be an indication that the muscle is possibly injured or inflamed and pressure should be adjusted. Also, pain can cause you to tighten up and negate the relaxing effects of the massage. The most effective and deepest massage always works with your body’s natural response, not against it.
How often should I get a massage?
As often as your body needs and that need varies from person to person. If you are just looking for some occasional relaxation, then a session every 3-6 weeks should work well for you.
However, if you are looking to address a specific condition, then it is recommended to go more frequently at first and then slowly taper down to a maintenance schedule. Sometimes, with injuries, more frequent sessions can be effective until your goals are met and a maintenance schedule is in place.
Frequency of sessions should be discussed with your massage therapist after your treatment when he/she has a better hands-on understanding of your particular muscular issues. Your doctor, chiropractor, physical therapist, or osteopath may write you a prescriptiion indicating their recommendations for your particular condition.
If I want a really deep massage shouldn’t I see a male therapist?
The answer is NO. The perception that men give deeper massages than women is understandable but not accurate. While some men may give a deeper massage, there are plenty of women who do so, as well.
It is a matter of style, training, and therapist preference. Some therapists prefer not to give really deep sessions while others, like myself, specialize in this area. If you are looking for a deep massage, it is best to simply ask the therapist if she/he does this type of work. And of course, during your session it is highly encouraged to give the therapist feedback if you would like a lighter/deeper pressure. It’s your session!
And remember, massage does not have to hurt to be effective.
Can I talk during my session?
Yep. Talk as much as you like. Often times, in more clinical work, a dialog between you and the therapist is necessary, as you work as a team to correct tension areas. However, with spa massage, the important thing to remember is that this treatment is all about you relaxing and enjoying the experience. Many therapists discourage talking in hopes that you will relax enter a parasympathetic state of massage relaxation.
Most people starting off talking, and as the massage progresses, they then quiet and enter state of relaxation.
The important issue here is that there are times when you need to speak up. If the therapist is doing anything to make you uncomfortable, you should let them know immediately. Also, let them know if you get too warm or too cold, if the room is too bright, or if the pressure needs to be changed (lighter or deeper). If something is not working for you – speak up! We LIKE your feedback and your comfort is the entire point of the session.
Do I have to listen to whale calls, running water, birds and flutes during my massage?
No. While many therapists play slower, quieter, ‘new age’ type music, you can choose to have different music or no music at all. Studies have shown that music at under 60 beats-per-minute has a calming, relaxing effect on the body and therefore can enhance your experience.
However, while this may be true, any music you like to listen to while you relax can be listened to while you get a massage. If it relaxes you and you enjoy it at home, why wouldn’t it do the same during your treatment? Ask your therapist what music they have to offer or bring your own music from home. You wont be the first person to rock out during their session!
How will I feel after my massage treatment?
Most people feel very relaxed. Some experience a significant decrease or freedom from long-term aches and pains. Many feel a little slowed down for a short period and then notice an increase of energy, heightened awareness and increased productivity which can last for days.
If you received a deep massage, you may be slightly sore the next day – not unlike a good workout at the gym. Sometimes a hot shower, or a soak in the tub with some epsom salts can ease this soreness.
After your session you should increase your water intake a bit. Just a glass or two more than normal is usually fine. This helps keep your body’s tissues hydrated and helps flush the toxins released in the massage.
How many sessions will I need?
Honestly, its hard to say. Every person is unique and every condition is unique to each person. It may take one session or it may take several. You and your therapist will be able to talk more specifically about this after your first session and he/she has had a chance to evaluate your body’s tissues.
When should I not get a massage?
There are few conditions which should prevent you from enjoying a massage. Illness would be the number one reason for avoiding massage. If you have a fever, cold/flu, or contagious skin infection, please cancel. This protects the therapist and their future clients. It also protects YOU. Massage can exasperate your condition. You want to feel better, not worse.
Pregnancy in the first trimenster is also contraindicated. If you are recieving a massage in this period, please be sure to inform your therapist and make sure that they are trained in prenatal care.
There are many other conditions in which your therapist may need to adapt his/her techniques (i.e. arthritis or osteoporosis) or avoid an area completely. With some conditions it is a good idea to get an approval from your physician before you receive massage (recent injuries, cancer, certain heart conditions, pregnancy). This doesn’t mean you can’t get massage. But its always better to err on the side of caution.
Your therapist can advise you about your specific needs.
How clean do I need to be before a massage?
Here’s the thing about massage therapists… As a group, we are some of the least judgmental people you’ll ever meet. We’ve seen it all and, for the most part, remain unfazed. A little B.O.? Don’t care. A bit sweaty? Don’t care. Super stinky feet? It happens. We’ll just throw a hot towel on them and wash them off before working on them. Unshaved legs? Ladies, you never believe me when I say this , but, I promise you, therapists DON’T care. Not even a little bit.
Here’s what does matter. Some semblance of “clean.” Super dirty or stinky isn’t pleasant to work on. So, if your pits are super ripe, step into the bathroom before the session and give them a quick paper towel wipe-down. That should be fine. If you’ve been barefoot all day and your soles are black, they need a quick wash before the session, if you want them worked on. When oiled, that dirt spreads all over your body and leads to a “gritty” massage. Yuck. You don’t want that.
Snoring, farts, periods, and erections all happen on the massage table. Welcome to the human condition. Now, get over it. Your therapist already has.
Snoring– It’s ok. Falling asleep during a massage isn’t considered rude. In fact, it’s encouraged! Snoring happens sometimes. No big deal. Your therapist will feel accomplished in helping you get to that level of relaxation.
Farts-Ok, those can be embarrassing. Your body is relaxed and being repeatedly pushed on and jostled. Farts happen and one or two will get no judgement from your therapist. Letting them repeatedly rip in session, however, is poor form.
Periods-If you are worried about dripping, just wear panties. All will be fine from there. We change our linens between every client., so don’t worry if a little mess escapes you. Again, we are all human and this kind of thing just happens. Moving on…
Erections-Most men avoid massage for fear this will happen to them. Or, they get a massage but are unable to relax because of this fear. We are all human so please don’t be embarrased….it happens.
Sometimes men get an erection during a non-sexual, therapeutic, full body massage. Touch administered to any part of the body can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which can result in a partial or complete erection.
An educated, professional massage therapist understands this and it will not be an issue for them. They will ignore it and continue their work without judgment. If you are still concerned, I try wearing more fitted underwear (briefs or boxer briefs) which provide more support than traditional boxers.
***Note: If the therapist feels that the session has turned sexual for the client, male or female, they may stop the session to clarify the client’s intent, and may decide to end the session immediately.
Can I drink alcohol before a massage?
Massage is relaxing. Drinking can be relaxing, too. But drinking and massage don’t mix well, for a number of reasons. Remember: first massage, then alcohol — never vice versa.
I have acne. Will massage oils clog my pores?
Some massage oils can indeed block pores. But others are non-comedogenic, meaning that you can use them at will even with pimples. There are other non-oil options for massages that you might prefer as well. If this is a concern, please speak up. Kinetic Health has options!
The pressure isn’t right, but I don’t want to insult my massage therapist. What should I do?
Communication between client and therapist is essential to provide the best therapeutic massage possible. A professional massage therapist should not be offended by a client who asks them for deeper work or to move a little left or right. If they do get offended, then find another therapist.
I’m never sure about gratuities. How much should I tip?
Gratuity is an act of gratitude, it is never a requirement to tip. If you are a gracious receiver of an awesome massage 15-20% is a standard percentage. The ultimate gratuity is not gratuity, but re-booking the next massage or referring those you know to the therapist.
More massage questions?
Should you have any other massage questions, please feel free to add them to your comments I will be happy to give you an honest answer!